TORONTO — Just four weeks remain in the CFL season which means playoffs are just around the corner and teams are all fighting for position in their respective divisions.
Week 17 starts in Hamilton where the Tiger-Cats host the Calgary Stampeders. Hamilton has turned things around since its 0-8 start, going 4-2 since June Jones took over as head coach. However, the Ticats will need to win at home against the West Division leaders if they want to stay in the playoff conversation. The Stampeders, on the other hand, have already clinched a playoff berth and are riding an impressive 10-game winning streak. Can the Tabbies be the ones to snap it?
Things then move to Saskatchewan for the second half of Friday’s doubleheader. Ottawa is looking to win their second game in a row while the Riders are already riding a two-game winning streak. Kevin Glenn struggled last week against the Argos but Brandon Bridge came to the rescue to lead the team to a win. Glenn has been named the starter but if he isn’t on his game, Bridge will be willing and able to step in. Ottawa, on the other hand, got their starting quarterback Trevor Harris back under centre last week. With Harris at the helm, the REDBLACKS looked like a completely different team than they were without him. They’ll hope to keep the momentum from last week’s win going as they need a win to widen the gap between them and Hamilton.
The first half of Saturday’s doubleheader starts in Winnipeg as the BC Lions visit the Blue Bombers. A win or a tie for the Bombers and they punch their ticket to the playoffs. The Lions need to get a win to keep themselves from falling too far behind to catch up. Winnipeg’s success will depend on Matt Nichols and if his hand injury causes him problems in game. If so, they will likely fall back on Andrew Harris to run the ball. BC has lost three in a row and will need to play a complete game if they want to defeat Winnipeg.
And finally, the week ends in Edmonton as the Toronto Argonauts take on the Eskimos. A win for the Argos means they will clinch a playoff spot. The Esks, on the other hand, snapped their six-game losing skid last week and will be hungry to add another win on this week. The addition of C.J. Gable helped the Esks on the way to that win as he rushed for over 100 yards and scored two touchdowns in his debut. The Argos will be without their star running back James Wilder Jr. this week which means Ricky Ray will need to look to his pass-attack to get the job done. Who comes out on top?
Schedule with the highest winning percentage: BC Lions, 35-22 (.614)
Schedule with the lowest winning percentage: Montreal Alouettes, 16-26 (.381)
200 YARD GAMES
Following Brandon Zylstra’s big game with seven receptions and 201 receiving yards game marked the third time this season a receiver has recorded 200+ yards.
Toronto’s SJ Green recorded 10 receptions for 210 yards in Week 3 versus Ottawa and BC’s Nick Moore notched 220 yards on 10 catches in Week 4 versus Hamilton.
200+ receiving games have happened as frequently this year as in the past two years combined: once in 2016 and twice on 2015.
Brian Kelly owns the CFL record with six games of 200+ receiving yards. Following Kelly, Terry Greer has five and Darren Flutie has four.
Only five active players have reached 200 receiving yards in a game: Greg Ellingson, Andy Fantuz, Green, Moore and Zylstra.
In CFL history, 20 players have recorded multiple 200+ receiving yard games;
MULTIPLE 200+ RECEIVING YARD GAMES
GAMES W/200+ RECEIVING YARDS
Darrell K. Smith
With only four weeks remaining the league has some tight races.
Passing Leaders: Mike Reilly leads the league with 4,546 passing yards; however, Toronto’s Ricky Ray is 126 yards away (4,420). Matt Nichols holds the edge with 27 TD passes. Trevor Harris trails Nichols by one TD and Mike Reilly trails by three.
Receiving Leaders: Greg Ellingson continues to lead the league in receiving yards with 1,381 yards. However, with Brandon Zylstra’s addition of 351 yards in the past two games he now trails by only 44 yards (1,335). Touchdown receptions are also led by Ellingson with 10. Three players have eight (Duron Carter, SJ Green and Naaman Roosevelt). Brad Sinopoli leads the league with 91 receptions followed by Ellingson and Andrew Harris with 88 each and Green and Zylstra with 82 each.
Rushing Leaders: Jerome Messam continues to lead the league in rushing (897) and is looking to make it back-to-back seasons as rushing leader. William Powell trails by 63 yards.
Sack Leaders: In one of the tightest races in the league this season, Victor Butler leads with nine sacks – however, nine players trail him by two sacks or fewer.
Interceptions: Ed Gainey continues to lead with eight interceptions, followed by Winnipeg’s Chris Randle.
Bye Weeks: Teams coming off a bye this year are 8-6 (.571). The Calgary Stampeders are coming off a Week 16 bye when they visit the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Friday night. Since 2005, Calgary is 15-0 coming off a bye week.
Road Winners: Week 16 was the first week this season where all the road teams won.
1,000 Yards: Two more players joined the 1,000 receiving yard club: Brad Sinipoli (1,009) and Naaman Roosevelt (1,006). There are three players who are 100 yards or fewer away from joining: Bryan Burnham (903) Jalen Saunders (901) and BJ Cunningham (900).
The Buds: Brad Sinopoli and Greg Ellingson make it three consecutive seasons they both recorded 1,000+ yards.
Interception-free Streak: Both Jeremiah Masoli and Bo Levi Mitchell enter this week without having thrown an interception in three games. Masoli has tossed 110 straight passes without an interception and Mitchell has tossed 91 straight passes without an interception.
Jones Takeover: June Jones can push his record to 5-2 (.714) with a victory over Calgary this week. The last coach who took over in mid-season and had a better mark than .714 was Adam Rita for BC back in 2002 (.750). No Hamilton head coach taking over in mid-season has EVER posted a winning record over the remainder of the season or even above a .400 winning %.
Comeback Complete: Saskatchewan’s 13-point comeback was their second straight double-digit recovery to win, a feat not accomplished by any Rider team since September 2010 (from 11 and 15 point deficits).
Close Games: The CFL record for games decided by seven points or fewer is now set at 12, shared by Saskatchewan back in 1953, tied by Winnipeg in 1975 and 2001, and most recently matched by Ottawa in 2017. Of these 12 games, a CFL record 10 have been decided by five points or fewer. Ottawa is 2-7-1 in their ten games decided by 0-5 point games.
Canadian QB passing yards: Brandon Bridge has 817 passing yards in 2017, the most by any Canadian QB since Bob Torrance’s 837 yards in 1993.
Zylstra Catches: In 18 career games (equivalent to one full season), Brandon Zylstra has amassed 1,843 receiving yards (102.4 yards per game).